theProf

Falcons 2018 Free Agents and Available Cap-Space

259 posts in this topic

On 1/17/2018 at 4:38 PM, Kayoh said:

yeah, Shanny did a lot to get the ball to Gabriel in open space, whereas Sark used him more as a traditional receiver.

oh yeah, but Sark did use Gabriel on that end-around out of the open set on 4th and goal.

The problem was lack of disguise on plays designed for Gabriel.  Pretty much ran identical formations as last year on all his wr screens....not surprisingly, nearly every one was blown up in the backfield.  

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12 hours ago, Falconsin2012 said:

The problem was lack of disguise on plays designed for Gabriel.  Pretty much ran identical formations as last year on all his wr screens....not surprisingly, nearly every one was blown up in the backfield.  

Frequently those screens would seemingly hinge on Matthews getting way outside as a blocker. And he pretty consistently struggled to get out there. 

Not the best design. 

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33 minutes ago, DoYouSeeWhatHappensLarry said:

Frequently those screens would seemingly hinge on Matthews getting way outside as a blocker. And he pretty consistently struggled to get out there. 

Not the best design. 

Agreed.   Gabriel has not been any better or worse than last year, but the play is designed for him were simply blown up before they had a chance to succeed. Would’ve liked to have seen a few of these though… 

 

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Where All the Biggest NFL Free Agents Will End Up in 2018

 
  • January 23, 2018
 
 
9. Lamarcus Joyner, FS: Atlanta
 

Joyner had an incredible season with the Los Angeles Rams. At free safety, he led the NFL’s free safeties in passer rating in his coverage area, at 22.7 on 22 targets. Of those 22 targets, three turned into interceptions. Even with those outstanding stats, Joyner is still up in the air for where he might land in 2018.

If the Rams choose to head in another direction (unlikely), Joyner will be the best fit for a position with the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons will already be looking to fill that position with their first-round draft pick. However, it would benefit them to lock that position up with Joyner, mainly because they need to focus on other pressing defense issues.

https://www.cheatsheet.com/sports/biggest-nfl-free-agents-2018.html/7/

 

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We need a real FB and a couple of quality guards, combo of FA vets and draft. I'd also like to see another speedy WR. I think we probably need to lean heavier on upgrading the offense this year in the off season.

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4 hours ago, DoYouSeeWhatHappensLarry said:

Don't know anything about him but I'll try to remember to take a look. 

 

REC 163, YDS 2256, AVG 13.84, TD 24

PR 93, YDS 1274, AVG 13.69, TD 9

I’ve only seen him a couple of times but he’s considered one of the top return men in college football over the last couple of years. He can also stretch the field. A few scouting reports:

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000857003/article/washington-could-have-another-round-1-wr-in-dante-pettis

http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=131328&draftyear=2018&genpos=WR

 

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3 hours ago, theProf said:

Where All the Biggest NFL Free Agents Will End Up in 2018

 
  • January 23, 2018
 
 
9. Lamarcus Joyner, FS: Atlanta
 

Joyner had an incredible season with the Los Angeles Rams. At free safety, he led the NFL’s free safeties in passer rating in his coverage area, at 22.7 on 22 targets. Of those 22 targets, three turned into interceptions. Even with those outstanding stats, Joyner is still up in the air for where he might land in 2018.

If the Rams choose to head in another direction (unlikely), Joyner will be the best fit for a position with the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons will already be looking to fill that position with their first-round draft pick. However, it would benefit them to lock that position up with Joyner, mainly because they need to focus on other pressing defense issues.

https://www.cheatsheet.com/sports/biggest-nfl-free-agents-2018.html/7/

 

I thought DQ was really high on Rico?

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4 hours ago, DoYouSeeWhatHappensLarry said:

Frequently those screens would seemingly hinge on Matthews getting way outside as a blocker. And he pretty consistently struggled to get out there. 

Not the best design. 

Yeah. Matthews wasn’t very good on the screen game this year.

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On 1/15/2018 at 1:34 PM, Flyin' In DC said:

I am not sure getting a new safety is this teams #1 priority. I don't think it is a given that Poe leaves after this year. No mention of shoring up or even revamping the O-Line. I also don't understand the Robert Alford and or how Trufant is getting so much more love the Alford. My thought is this

1. O-Line -  starting RG - Did something happen to Schraeder after his concussion he was not very good this year

2. DT - What happens to Poe? We do need more beef on the D-Line

3. WR - Julio and Sanu need more help

4. TE and FB

5. Corners

I agree - I felt that analysis was poorly thought out and did not agree with much.

Depth - we need depth on the line.   Injuries on the line destroy us.   We need to build both lines and have depth.    OG is a glaring weakness and we should be grooming a starting caliber Center - the QB of the line for when Alex Mack is gone. 

I feel the next priority should be TE and/or FB and then WR 

As for Corners - I really like Alford and Trufant.    I actually like our secondary a lot and think that building the pass rush / DL will strengthen the secondary as well.

 

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The Falcons’ offseason plan: what players the team needs in free agency and the draft

We are pretty familiar with being in the offseason too early, so we are taking a familiar deep dive into what we expect from the team’s offseason plans.

 

Hello darkness, my old friend. You know it is draft season again.

We do not need to talk much about the 2017 season here, because we are onto 2018. It looks like Keith Armstrong is staying with the Falcons, and Dan Quinn brought Greg Knapp back as a quarterbacks coach. The coaching staff should be complete, so the next four months will be dedicated to free agency and the draft.

Lets call this our first stab at where the roster will shake out, and some options for the team. Sometimes options fail to match up with team needs, pushing a certain position to either free agency or the draft. Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff talked about coaching up defensive players, so my assumption is they will continue to generally prioritize free agency dollars on offense, and draft picks on defense. Plus the last thing this offense needs is a rookie. We talked about the team’s free agents last week, and I honestly do not see any tough decisions to make.

The Unsigned

The Falcons need to make a decision on these players:

If the Falcons lose Poe and Gabriel, the team will need to add a starter-quality wide receiver and defensive tackle.

For the sake of simplicity, Poe is the biggest question mark here. I am not sure what his asking price will be, but I do not think he made a big enough plays to warrant the deal he wants. He is unquestionably a good player, but my concern is paying him like a top lineman. I am guessing the Falcons would rather add a rookie instead of worrying about paying Poe and Grady Jarrett at the same time. Jarrett will end up paid like a top lineman, so the Falcons realistically have to make a tough choice. I would expect Adrian Clayborn, Matt Bryant, and Ben Garland back in some capacity, and perhaps Kemal Ishmael for his special teams prowess.

The Potential Cuts

The Falcons have an estimated $17 million in cap space, which will quickly dwindle after signing their rookie class and adding a few decent players in free agency. They could push to a healthier $30 million with a few cuts and not even have to resort to a post-June 1st cut. I think the following guys may end up gone, or asked to take a pay cut to remain with the team.

I do not want to suggest any of these are bad players, but their on-field performances have not matched up to their 2018 contracts.

The Expected Needs

I think it is clear the Falcons will need to add a starting-level guard, defensive tackle, wide receiver, and tight end this offseason. Even if the Falcons manage to keep Poe, they still need another body in that rotation. The offense desperately needs a steadier presence at guard, a faster wide receiver, and a competent tight end to pair with Austin Hooper. I could see guard going either way: the Falcons giving Sean Harlow and Wes Schweitzer a chance to earn the starting position. That feels like a risky proposition with the offensive core getting long in the tooth, but would not be the worst backup plan. Lastly, Atlanta needs a dangerous return specialist. They will need a few depth players here and there, but otherwise I see those five spots as the top priority of the offseason.

Available Unrestricted Free Agents

Here’s where things get interesting and give you a potential road map for the Falcons.

There’s no defensive tackle here I would be comfortable making a starter on a long-term deal.

Defensive tackles are a mixed bag. The top “name” is Sheldon Richardson, a great but inconsistent player that may end up on his third team in as many seasons. In fact, Pro Football Focus has 31 year-old Mitch Unrein as the slightly better player. Their next best players are backups DaQuan Jones, Xavier Williams, and Justin Ellis. If the Seahawks let Richardson go, I’m certain Quinn would call Pete Carroll to find out why.

 

There is no player that definitely solves Atlanta’s wide receiver problem behind Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu.

Wide receivers include Jarvis Landry (reportedly asking for Davante Adams money), Josh Gordon (who is in between suspensions), Allen Robinson (coming off injury), Sammy Watkins (in between injuries), and Terrelle Pryor (who failed pretty hard in Washington). Some of these would be premier players two years ago, but it is more of an illustration of how quickly things can fall apart for a young pass catcher. There is a lot of risk and reward here, and the Falcons would hopefully add some speed and size . If the Falcons swing for a cheap deal with Josh Gordon, they would have to protect themselves with a rookie wide receiver in case of suspension.

Tight end has been a disaster since Tony Gonzalez left. In free agency, there should be some reasonably priced players that can take the weight off of Austin Hooper. This free agent class has some big names like Jimmy Graham and Tyler Eifert, but there are two better options for the Falcons: Trey Burton and (pause for dramatic effect) Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Burton, 26, has been the backup tight end in Philadelphia, but has shined when given a chance. Why am I even mentioning Seferian-Jenkins? He’s a very athletic player with dominant potential, was one of Steve Sarkisian’s top players at Washington, and is still only 25.

That’s right, we finally found a Sarkisian connection!

Cameron Brate could make some sense as well. He would be an easy improvement on Atlanta’s weak depth chart. We could even see more three-tight end sets!

Offensive guard should be a huge need. Wes Schweitzer was inconsistent and Andy Levitre finished the season on injured reserve. It may make sense to add another guard this offseason, and move Schweitzer to Levitre’s spot in 2019. Who is the top guard available? Impressive Carolina Panthers guard Andrew Norwell, still only 26. He’s one of the best in the league, and Atlanta could steal him away from a division rival.

I’d love to sign Norwell. He would solidify the problematic interior of the offensive line.

Atlanta could take a shot on Justin Pugh, the New York Giants guard that was pushed to play tackle.

Free Agency Results

The Falcons would do well to come away with two starters in free agency. The focus in free agency should be starters, as a rookie wide receiver or tight end might be two to three years away from being a real contributor. Some positions have a very long developmental curve, and the team should be mindful of that when approaching the offseason.

The Falcons can easily clear up enough cap space to add both Norwell and Seferian-Jenkins, and even toss a prove-it deal at a wide receiver if they feel so inclined. They would need to address wide receiver again in the draft, but could afford to wait until day three. There’s simply no defensive tackle or wide receiver that fits well enough to start.

Draft Options

Defensive tackle quickly becomes the team’s top need after addressing guard. The Falcons would be well set to address the position in round one and not have to worry about paying another tackle for five years. It’s early in the offseason, but Da’Rob Payne from Alabama, Taven Bryan from Florida, and Vita Vea from Washington make sense.

That opens the team up to move to best player available after round one, allowing them to additionally move up or down as their draft board shakes out. The team should be able to grab a WR/KR, a corner back, an offensive lineman, a developmental defensive end, and even a developmental quarterback. If they can go best player available after round one, that will dramatically improve their depth.

Offseason Results

The lack of impressive defensive tackle options pushes the Falcons to addressing their other big roster hole in free agency: guard. If they are able to land Norwell, Atlanta would have one of the league’s best offensive lines. There are multiple tight end options that should be reasonably priced. With Austin Hooper’s presumed development, Atlanta could have two very competent tight ends. It looks like there should be a few wide receivers with elite potential the Falcons could land for peanuts, but that’s far from a must.

Atlanta should be able to grab one of the draft’s top defensive tackles, and give Dan Quinn another defensive player to coach up. The Falcons then have the luxury of taking the best players on their board through the rest of the draft. The roster is good enough and the team has enough cap space to improve the starters and add some talented depth this offseason.

Complaints

As always, head to the comments in single file to leave your complaints.

https://www.thefalcoholic.com/2018/1/23/16920216/the-falcons-offseason-plan-what-players-the-team-needs-in-free-agency-and-the-draft-dontari-poe

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Falcons 2018 free agents: Should they stay or should they go?

By: Matt Urben and Tim Weaver | January 25, 2018

DEFENSIVE LINE

DT Dontari Poe

2017 stats: 39 tackles, 2.5 sacks

Poe has been a steady force on the interior of the Falcons’ defensive line. His athleticism and ability to generate push up the middle are worth paying for. Atlanta cannot underestimate the value of his presence and effect on the rest of the defense. It’d be in the team’s best interest to keep him around as he’s still just 27.

Verdict: Stay

 

DE Adrian Clayborn

2017 stats: 21 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles

Clayborn had some huge games this season and may have earned himself a big payday as a result. He’s still under 30 years old and has been a great fit in Dan Quinn’s defense. Breaking the bank for him may not be the wisest move with the production of young pass-rushers Takkarist McKinley and Vic Beasley, though. If the money isn’t too crazy, it’d be a nice luxury to keep Clayborn around.

Verdict: Depends on $

 

DL Courtney Upshaw

2017 stats:  9 tackles, 1 sack

Upshaw didn’t play a significant role this past season (just 200 snaps), and his production dropped significantly as a result. If the Falcons are planning on re-signing Poe, then Upshaw might not be worth the money he can get on the open market. Given his reduced role, it would probably be best for the Falcons to go in a different direction.

Verdict: Go

 

DT Ahtyba Rubin

2017 stats: 15 tackles

Rubin is coming off of a quiet year in which he played just 160 snaps and missed four games. At 31 years old, he’s not likely to command as much money as Upshaw. He was effective at times and a short-term deal could be a perfect way to add some depth at a discount.

Verdict: Stay

 

LINEBACKERS

Sean Weatherspoon

2017 stats: 1 tackle

Weatherspoon didn’t make much of an impact this season and only ended up playing in two games (six total snaps). The Falcons should probably move in a younger direction with Deion Jones and Duke Riley in place.

Verdict: Go

 

Kemal Ishmael

2017 stats: 28 tackles, 1 sack

Ishmael has continued to work his way up from his seventh-round pick status into an important backup role. At just 26, he’s got plenty of tread left on the tires and gives Atlanta a nice depth option at safety plus he contributes on special teams. He may have earned several free agent suitors, though.

Verdict: Depends on the $

 

Jordan Tripp

2017 stats: N/A

Tripp is a former fifth-round pick from Montana who hasn’t seen much action in his three pro seasons. He was only active for three games and didn’t record a single snap. Trip will likely be an affordable option and at 26 years old, still has some upside.

Verdict: Stay

 

DEFENSIVE BACKS

S Ricardo Allen

2017 stats: 54 tackles, 1 INT

Allen is a restricted free agent for now but could command big money next year. The Falcons would be wise to sign him to a long-term extension before then.

Verdict: Stay

 

CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson

2017 stats: 4 tackles

Wreh-Wilson played in eight games (64 snaps) for Atlanta in 2017. When healthy, he’s been effective in a limited role. Entering his sixth season, he understands the system and is worth keeping around.

Verdict: Stay

 

CB Leon McFadden

2017 stats: 4 tackles

McFadden was only brought in for depth. He would be another low-risk pickup, but the Falcons can probably find someone younger and cheaper.

Verdict: Go

 

OFFENSIVE LINE

G Ben Garland

2017 stats: 44.6 Pro Football Focus Rating (ranked No. 50 among guards)

The Falcons haven’t exactly resolved their guard situation yet and Garland, at 29, would be a cheap signing that gives them some depth at their weakest position. They could still add a big-name free agent, but Garland’s return would make sense either way.

Verdict: Stay

 

T Austin Pasztor

2017 stats: N/A

The 27-year-old Pasztor hasn’t really shown enough to earn playing time during his six NFL seasons. He doesn’t appear to be in Atlanta’s short or long-term plans.

Verdict: Go

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

Taylor Gabriel

2017 stats: 33 catches, 378 yards, 1 touchdown

Gabriel is an exciting player with elite speed. The former Brown’s production dropped from 579 yards in 2016 to just 378 this season, though. The right team might make Gabriel a wealthy wide receiver, but if Atlanta can afford it they should bring him back.

Verdict: Depends on $

 

Nick Williams

2017 stats: 3 catches, 30 yards

Williams has struggled to find a role with the Falcons. His game doesn’t stand out in any one area and while he’s still young enough to improve, he may be better suited somewhere else where they aren’t already loaded at receiver.

Verdict: Go

 

RUNNING BACKS

Terron Ward

2017 stats: 129 rushing yards, 14 receiving yards

Ward is potentially the odd man out of Atlanta’s talented backfield with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. He’s only lasted this long because last year’s fifth-round pick Brian Hill failed.

Verdict: Go

 

Terrence Magee

2017 stats: N/A

Much like Ward, Magee is completely replaceable on a team like Atlanta. Expect them to draft another running back this year.

Verdict: Go

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

K Matt Bryant

2017 stats: 34/39 field goals, 35/35 extra points

The 42-year-old Bryant had another great season and has already said he hopes to play a few more years with the Falcons. The team would be absolutely crazy to move on if Bryant still wants to play.

Verdict: Stay

 

FB Derrick Coleman

2017 stats: 8 rushing yards, 20 receiving yards

Coleman played 227 snaps last season in Steve Sarkisian’s first year running the show for the Falcons. As a fullback he was awful, but he does have some value on special teams.

Verdict: Depends on the $

 

KR Andre Roberts

2017 stats: 1 catch, 12 yards, 860 kickoff ret. yards, 220 punt ret. yards

Roberts had his moments but too often made unwise decisions and had four fumbles. He could still play in the NFL, but only for a more desperate team.

Verdict: Go

 

http://thefalconswire.usatoday.com/2018/01/25/falcons-2018-free-agents-should-they-stay-or-should-they-go/

 

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Considering the ideal Atlanta Falcons free agent haul for 2018

The team will have limited dollars, so here’s how we’d use them if we had our druthers.
 
By Dave Choate Jan 28, 2018, 8:00am EST
 

Cory Woodroof

The Falcons have areas they’re going to have to address this free agency. Before we discuss outside guys, let’s look at the three big names internally up for extensions -- Adrian Clayborn, Dontari Poe, Taylor Gabriel. Let’s say Poe and Gabriel get away (one for the money, two for the Garoppolo), and the team re-signs Clayborn. Of other in-house FAs, K Matt Bryant, DT Ahtyba Rubin, LB LaRoy Reynolds and CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson would be ideal candidates to return.

Of new faces, I’m big on the team adding a red zone threat, so let’s say Cincy TE Tyler Eifert gets loose from the Bengals. He’s a big-bodied TE with red zone production, and if not for his injury history, would be a top-paid player at the position. With Austin Hooper in tow, the team can afford to gamble on a one-year prove-it deal with Eifert, and rotate he and Hooper around as co-TE1s. Matt Ryan would love having a big TE like Eifert to use in the end zone. Nabbing a fullback would also be nice, and Saints FB Zach Line (PFF’s third-best FB in 2017) is going to be available. He would fill a major need, and make our worst enemy weaker. I’m all in on that scenario.

Of new defensive players, consider the status of Seahawks DE Michael Bennett. It’s been tossed about here and there that Seattle may part ways with him one way or the other this offseason, and particularly if he’s released, Atlanta need to make a big push for him. The Falcons would likely be his preferred destination with Dan Quinn his old coach in SEA, and it’d be the kind of statement move that would put this defense up a notch in the league, and the rest of the NFC on notice. I think a trade feels more likely, but if he’s a FA, Atlanta needs to get him. They probably add one or two other new depth guys I could even begin to guess -- like a random linebacker and a veteran offensive lineman. If all of this falls through, Atlanta could focus on adding to the DT, WR and OL spots in the draft.

 

Torgo

I’ll keep it simple and go with a basic philosophy rather than specific names. Thomas Dimitroff openly describes himself as a “pure needs-based guy” when it comes to the draft. I prefer a modified version of the BPA approach. One key element of that approach (and one which the TV analysts never bother to mention) is to use free agency to plug the holes so that you aren’t painted into a corner and forced to use your first and/or second round picks at specific positions.

(It’s also important to understand the difference between wanting an upgrade and needing to fill a hole. You might want a better player than the one you have, but if the current guy is remotely competent, it’s not a hole. For example, right guard was a question mark last offseason with Chris Chester’s departure. But it was not a true hole as we had Schweitzer in the pipeline and Garland for competition. By comparison, we didn’t have candidates on the roster when we first lost Justin Blalock. That was a true hole.)

So, my wish list for free agency is for our braintrust to plug holes (including any created by their own cap moves) well enough to head into the draft with all of us having absolutely no clue what they will do with their top three picks.

 

Dave Choate

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This Falcons team is largely not broken, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, so I think the team’s first priority in free agency should be to retain key players. As Cory mentioned above, Adrian Clayborn, Ahtyba Rubin, LaRoy Reynolds, and Blidi Wreh-Wilson should all be back at reasonable prices, and ideally you’d see Dontari Poe return as well, especially if the Falcons aren’t targeting a defensive tackle in the first round or two of the draft. If Steve Sarkisian can do a better job getting Taylor Gabriel involved in the offense, let’s make that happen, too.

From there, it’s about addressing minor holes, especially if you do scoop up Poe or my preferred target Sheldon Richardson. I’d like to see Atlanta consider a veteran cornerback option to compete with Brian Poole at the nickel and give the team four quality corners--T.J. Carrie from Oakland/Las Vegas and E.J. Gaines from Buffalo spring to mind as potential quality additions--and look at a free agent fullback with more blocking acumen than Derrick Coleman.

As usual, the Falcons should and likely will do their best work in the draft. This free agency period should be about keeping the band together and improving within the narrow confines of the salary cap.

 

Matt Chambers

I’ve been through a few scenarios so far in how the offseason can play out, and I keep ending up at the Falcons needing to snatch up a guard and tight end. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if they didn’t, knowing the young guys should continue to develop. It’s still mighty risky to hope Wes Schweitzer and Austin Hooper become above average at their position, especially with the age of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones.

My dream offseason is signing Andrew Norwell, easily one of the best young guards in the league. Give Schweitzer and even Sean Harlow one more year to develop, and the best of the two replaces Andre Levitre in 2019. Hooper is still full of potential, but Atlanta has no one behind him. The offense lost their versatility last year, and two tight end threats could help bring it back. Who is young, available, athletic, (presumably) cheap, and has a history with Steve Sarkisian? Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

Those two signings should take up a reasonable amount of cap space, but the Falcons could still toss a one-year deal at whatever wide receiver is still looking for a team deep in free agency. The Falcons should replace Taylor Gabriel with speed and size, so give me whoever is left from the damaged group of Josh Gordon, Allen Robinson, Sammy Watkins, and Terrelle Pryor to act as the WR2/WR3.

 

https://www.thefalcoholic.com/2018/1/28/16941648/considering-the-ideal-atlanta-falcons-free-agent-haul-for-2018

 

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On 1/15/2018 at 9:59 AM, shock said:

We don't need another "slot type" WR like Hardy or Gabriel. Sanu is actually in the slot quite a bit and can thrive there for awhile longer. What we need is a true #2 WR to pair with Julio and then move Sanu to the slot. If we were able to pick up a talent similar to Michael Thomas in rounds 2 or 3 I'd say go for it (Under the assumption we improve OL in FA and pick a DT in round 1.)

Allen Robinson is a free agent and would allow us to have Sanu in the slot more often.  We could live with Hooper as our #4 or #5 in the passing game.

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What should the Falcons do with Andy Levitre?

The Falcons’ starting LG from the past three seasons has been a rock-solid contributor on the offensive line. What will Atlanta do with Levitre heading into 2018?

By Kevin Knight@FalcoholicKevin Jan 29, 2018

 
 

The 2018 offseason is well underway, with the Senior Bowl wrapping up and free agency rapidly approaching. Speaking of free agency, one of the biggest questions facing the Falcons heading into the 2018 season is what to do with starting LG Andy Levitre.

Levitre has been an above-average starter through his 3 seasons with the team after being brought in from a last-minute trade with the Titans prior to the 2015 season. He’s been a reliable option on the offensive line, starting all 16 games for the Falcons in 2015 and 2016. In 2017, he started the first 12 games before suffering a triceps injury that kept him out until Week 17. Levitre returned for the Week 17 victory over the Panthers, but aggravated the injury once again and was put on IR heading into the playoffs.

The Falcons offensive line notably suffered with Levitre out of the lineup, as reserve lineman Ben Garland filled in decently as a run blocker but couldn’t hold up in pass protection. Levitre’s loss combined with the shaky play of first-year starter Wes Schweitzer at RG ultimately helped doom the Falcons in the playoffs.

With that in mind, Levitre enters the 2018 season in the final year of his original 6-year contract. Concerns about his cap hit and recent season-ending injury have led to questions about his status with the team going forward. Let’s take a look at some of the possible options the Falcons have with Levitre this offseason.


Do nothing

If Falcons do nothing with Levitre, he will remain with the team in 2018 and enter the final year of his 6-year contract. Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue, but Levitre’s cap hit skyrockets to a whopping $8.375M in 2018—giving him the price tag of an elite NFL guard (that cap hit ranks 14th among all guards in the NFL). That is undoubtedly overpaying for Levitre—who is an above-average player and a consistent starter, but not a top talent.

However, the Falcons could decide to simply stand pat and allow Levitre to play out his contract. That would make him a free agent in 2019 who’s fate would almost certainly be tied to his performance and asking price next season. I don’t see this option as particularly likely, unless Levitre’s agent stonewalls the team and the Falcons fail in their search for another starting guard—either through free agency or the draft. It would allow them to keep their above-average starter for at least the 2018 season, however, and continuity (and reliability) on the offensive line is quite valuable.

Offer an extension/restructure

I believe this is the route the Falcons will try to take with Levitre. He’s been a quality starter for this team and will be turning 31 in 2018. The only knocks on Levitre are his cap hit this year ($8.375M) and the fact that he suffered a season-ending injury just before the playoffs. Otherwise, Levitre has more than earned his spot at LG going forward—and the team would be wise to keep that continuity going if at all possible.

The best route might be offering Levitre a 2-year extension that keeps him with the team through the 2020 season. Atlanta can offer Levitre some bonus money and guarantees in future years in exchange for reducing his cap hit into the ~$5M range over the next three seasons. That would bring Levitre’s cap hit more in line with his market value and would also give the Falcons ample time to find his eventual successor. When the contract expires in 2020, Levitre would still be only 33—leaving the door open for another short contract extension if he’s still performing at a high level.

Cut Levitre

If Levitre is unwilling to negotiate or accept a deal that lowers his cap hit, the Falcons may well decide to roll the dice on finding a replacement and move on from Levitre this year. The team would save $7M in cap space (with only $1.375M in dead cap), but would be down a starter and would lose the continuity and veteran presence that Levitre brought to the offensive line.

This option is a gamble, as unless the Falcons plan to bring in an established starter in free agency (which will likely soak up all that cap savings), they’ll be depending on a draft pick or Sean Harlow to take over the LG position. There are certainly some options in the draft (Isaiah Wynn from Georgia could be available at pick 26), but going into 2018 with a rookie and an unproven starter at RG (Schweitzer) could be a recipe for a difficult offensive line season. I think the Falcons would prefer to avoid this option if at all possible—hopefully the two sides can work something out before it comes to this.


I’m on record predicting that the Falcons will offer Levitre some sort of extension (probably 2-3 years) in exchange for lowering his cap hit, but that doesn’t mean Levitre will accept it. The Falcons may very well be forced to choose between overpaying for a reliable starter or rolling the dice on a rookie (or first-year starter like Sean Harlow). However, Levitre’s open-market value will be notably lower coming off a season-ending injury—which may open the door for some sort of arrangement between him and the Falcons.

I hope the Falcons can keep Levitre around, but what do you think? Would you like to see the Falcons keep Levitre, extend him, or move on this offseason? If you don’t think Levitre will be with the team in 2018, who would you want to replace him: a rookie or a free agent

https://www.thefalcoholic.com/2018/1/29/16945256/what-should-the-falcons-do-with-andy-levitre-offseason-2018

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1 hour ago, Kayoh said:

I also have a thread in NFLD&FA that includes our FAs from next year as well as a color coded system to show how important they are to replace/re-sign. Have a look:

 

Thanks

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Falcons could reward safety Ricardo Allen with long-term deal

Vaughn McClure

The Atlanta Falcons often talk about how important free safety Ricardo Allen is to the success of the defense. Now they have a chance to show him with a financial commitment.

Allen is a restricted free agent, but that doesn't preclude the Falcons from rewarding him with a long-term deal, either heading into the 2018 season or at some point during the season. Allen made $615,000 in 2017 as an exclusive-rights free agent.

“Yes, I believe we can create space for Rico and a number of other players,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said when asked if Allen could receive a long-term deal rather than just play under the one-year restricted free-agent tender. “That said, we are always striving for creativity. And decisions made on certain free agents, whether they be restricted or unrestricted, oftentimes are contingent on the creativity they enable or not.”

The Falcons seem likely to at least place a second-round tender on Allen to ensure he doesn't reach free agency. Allen opened eyes across the league with his consistent play, so placing a lower tender on the 2014 fifth-round pick from Purdue wouldn't make much sense, as it would increase the possibility of losing him.

“He's an eraser, he's got instincts, and he's very smart,” one league executive said of Allen. “The more he plays, the better he's going to look because he's going to get that experience. He's always been an instinctive guy because he was a corner. He's got a real good feel for the game. If the Falcons were to put him out there, you'd have a handful of teams jumping out at him because he's in the prime of his career.”

A second-round tender was worth $2.553 million in 2016 and $2.746 million last year. It should be just under $3 million this year. The deadline for a restricted free agent to sign an offer sheet from another team is April 20, and the deadline for a team to withdraw the tender is June 15.

Even if Allen were to sign an extended tender, that doesn't prevent the sides from reaching a long-term deal in the same breath. Allen is represented by powerhouse agent Drew Rosenhaus, who is accustomed to negotiating top-level contracts. Rosenhaus client Brandon Marshall, a linebacker for the Denver Broncos, signed a $2.553 million restricted-free-agent tender at the deadline in June 2016, and then immediately agreed to a four-year, $27.64 million extension that included $20.053 million guaranteed. The $2.553 million in the first year made it basically a $30 million deal for Marshall.

The Falcons had a similar case with right tackle Ryan Schraeder, who signed a $2.553 second-round tender in March 2016 only to agree to a five-year, $31.5 extension that November, an extension that included $12.5 million guaranteed.

Allen could bet on himself and play out next season under the one-year RFA tender, put together a Pro Bowl season, then command an even more lucrative contract in 2019. That appears to be the scenario for Carolina offensive guard Andrew Norwell, who played under the $2.746 million RFA tender this past season, played well, and now is expected to cash in as a top unrestricted free agent this offseason.

However it all unfolds for Allen, he is due for a significant raise. Rosenhaus surely will argue that Allen deserves to be paid among the top-tier free safeties in the league based on his value to the defense. Allen played multiple positions throughout this past season and logged 902 defensive snaps. He was the team's most consistent tackler and was a designated “chief” as one of the team's leaders.

The three highest-paid free safeties regarding average per year -- Arizona's Tyrann Mathieu, Minnesota's Harrison Smith and Seattle's Earl Thomas -- make $12.5 million, $10.25 million and $10 million per year, respectively, with Thomas currently looking for a new contract. New England's Devin McCourty averages $9.5 million, while Jacksonville's Tashaun Gipson, Denver's Darian Stewart and Philadelphia's Rodney McLeod each average about $7 million per season.

When asked about his future in the moments after a playoff loss to the Eagles, the last thing Allen wanted to talk about was contract numbers. He did speak, in general terms, about his goals for next season and beyond.

“My goal is just to push this defense as hard as I can, pulling the best out of my brothers,” Allen said. “For me personally, I want to take that next step and be considered among the elite safeties. I thought this past season, I did a good job of taking my chances when I needed to. I felt my game took another jump. But personally, I know I can play at an even higher level.”

The Falcons rewarded their top two cornerbacks with long-term deals in 2017, signing Desmond Trufant to a five-year, $68.75 million extension ($41.526 million guaranteed) and Robert Alford to a four-year, $38 million extension ($21 million guaranteed). We'll see how much they are willing to invest in Allen. Dimitroff said the upcoming contract extension for quarterback Matt Ryan should create more flexibility for others.

Again, the Falcons have gone out of their way to praise Allen's value to the defense.

"He might not be that big, he might not be that fast, but he does the job and he gets it done," defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel said of the 5-foot-9, 186-pound Allen. "We were better on defense that he only had two missed tackles all year. Not a lot of free safeties can say that, maybe that being Earl [Thomas].”

Allen appreciates the praise from his coaches and teammates, but he's more concerned about elevating the defense as a whole. The Falcons finished in the top 10 in total defense and scoring defense for the first time since 1998.

“I think if we keep taking steps, there's no reason why we can't push this to a higher standard and become a top-five defense,” Allen said. “All we have to do is keep developing and maintaining our high standards. I think it will all play out the way it should if we keep doing it that way.”

 

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How much cap space do the Falcons have for 2018 free agency?

It looks like between $10-$12 million.

By Dave Choate Feb 2, 2018
 

How much cap space do the Falcons have?” is a question that tends to dominate the discourse around the team in February, March, and even April of most years. You want to know because you want to figure out if the Falcons can sign any big names, and whether they will.

So let’s answer that question. Just how much cap space do the Falcons have?

First off, the bad news: If you’ve been nursing dreams of getting preposterously expensive reception-muncher Jarvis Landry, or landing Carolina’s excellent guard Andrew Norwell, you probably are going to have to think again. Spotrac currently has the Falcons at $10.05 million in cap space, while Over the Cap has them at $12.175 million. Neither total is going to allow the Falcons to do a whole **** of a lot in free agency, and either way you’re talking about one reasonably big free agent contract (think Dontari Poe) and a few smaller signings.

The good news is that total will change, of course. The Falcons can free up a couple of million dollars by releasing Brooks Reed, a few million more by cutting ties with Andy Levitre, and they’ll likely squeeze a little more spending money out of a Matt Ryan extension. If the team is really serious about landing a couple of impactful, costly free agents, they more or less have to shake money free elsewhere. Reed, who is a rotational defensive end, probably makes more sense than Levitre, a valuable starting guard. We just don’t know what the Falcons will be up to until they start swinging that axe.

For now, though, operate under the assumption that the Falcons will essentially be one and done in free agency, the way they were a year ago. That means you could see Dontari Poe, a name free agent wide receiver or tight end, or even a quality veteran guard, but probably not three (and perhaps not even two) of those. This will help you avoid disappointment later on.

https://www.thefalcoholic.com/2018/2/2/16951562/how-much-cap-space-do-the-falcons-have-for-2018-free-agency

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4 minutes ago, theProf said:

Spotrac currently has the Falcons at $10.05 million in cap space, while Over the Cap has them at $12.175 million. 

I just checked the Spotrac and OvertheCap websites. Spotrac is showing $10,057,712 available cap-space, but Over the Cap is not currently showing $12.175 million as per the above article, but is now only showing $10,850,622 of available cap-space. 

https://overthecap.com/salary-cap/atlanta-falcons/

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Sportrac is garbage,  do the guys at Falcoholic do any actual research? Sportrac has Mercilus Branch taking 4.8 M in cap space for a guy who  won’t even make the team. Check the NFLPA Numbers, assuming the Cap space is 178 M. Falcons would have 12-13 M in cap space. 

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23 minutes ago, falcons007 said:

Sportrac is garbage,  do the guys at Falcoholic do any actual research? Sportrac has Mercilus Branch taking 4.8 M in cap space for a guy who  won’t even make the team. Check the NFLPA Numbers, assuming the Cap space is 178 M. Falcons would have 12-13 M in cap space. 

The NFLPA available cap numbers for 2018 are not out yet. As a general rule, the available cap numbers from OvertheCap tend to be more accurate than Spotrac's numbers.

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37 minutes ago, theProf said:

The NFLPA available cap numbers for 2018 are not out yet. As a general rule, the available cap numbers from OvertheCap tend to be more accurate than Spotrac's numbers.

They are out and generated every day. The falcons current cap space commitment is ($165,552,731). In the off season only top 51 player salary counts against the cap. So the cap space is around 12.5 M assuming a Cap space of 178M.

https://www.nflpa.com/public-salary-cap-report

Edit: Falcons have only 48 players on contract right now. Some of that cap remaining will go to sign 3 more players. 

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